Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Teacher Evaluation: APPR

What makes a good teacher a good teacher? Can the effectiveness of a teacher be accurately and fairly measured under the new mandated teacher (and principal) evaluation system? Have teachers and administrators been buried under an avalanche of bureaucratic red tape, all in exchange for a portion of the $700 million dollars (for NYS) in federal Race to the Top (RTTT) monies ($35,000/year for 3 years for the PCSD), or will the new evaluation system help identify teacher weaknesses, help remedy such, and lead to improvement of teachers, to the eventual removal of failing teachers, and to the improvement of education for students?

The RTTT monies ($3.5 billion in all) were intended to spur innovation and reform in K-12 education.

The RTTT deal included performance based standards (often called the Annual Professional Performance Review or APPR) for teachers and principals.  Just how will teachers be evaluated? It is mandated that...
  • (20%) The performance of students on NYS mandated tests will make up 20% of a teacher's score. 
  • (20%) An additional 20% must be from a list of three testing options that include 1. state tests 2. third-party assessments/tests approved by SED 3. locally developed tests that are subject to SED review and approval. 
  • (60%) Teacher performance makes up the remaining 60% of teachers' evaluation. 
According to an announcement (2/16/12) from Governor Cuomo, Education Commissioner John King, and NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi, teacher performance is based on "rigorous and nationally-recognized measures of teacher performance. A majority of the teacher performance points are to be based on classroom observations by an administrator or principals, and at least one observation will be unannounced. The remaining points are to be based upon defined standards including observations by independent trained evaluators, peer classroom observations, student and parent feedback from evaluators, and evidence of performance through student portfolios." 

The rating system is as follows:
  1. Teachers will be rated as ineffective if they receive a score of 0-64.
  2. Teachers will be rated as developing if they receive a score of 65-74.
  3. Teachers will be rated as effective if they receive a score of 75-90.
  4. Teaches will be rated as highly effective if they receive a score of 91-100.
While the press release from the Governor's office might make  the reader believe that the classroom observations of teachers will have the biggest influence on the ratings teachers receive, this is not an accurate reading of it. A very significant caveat is that teachers (and principals) whose students score in the ineffective range in the 40-point student test performance portion of the evaluation, cannot be rated as a developing teacher/principal.  In other words, they must be labeled as ineffective (or failing). See

Therefore, student performance on mandated tests will drive the ratings of teachers and principals. Debate about that will be the focus of my next posting.

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